Chelsea will play Manchester City in the 5th round of the FA Cup after cruising to victory against Stoke City on Sunday. The stand out tie will see Mourinho pit his wits against Pellegrini twice, in a matter of weeks.
The 1-0 score line at the Bridge suggests a close fought encounter, this was anything but close. Chelsea were unlucky, slightly wasteful and the City keeper, Begovic, had another great day between the sticks. In truth, on another day, the Blues could have scored 4 or 5 and would not have been flattered, given the apparent gulf in class between the two teams.
Mourinho fielded a strong team to begin the ‘ life after Mata’ era. Five, seamless, changes from the last outing saw Matic get his second debut and a very impressive debut at that. Chelsea paid heavily for letting Matic go to Benfica, as a makeweight in the Luiz deal, but this boy looks a class act and will add bite to the midfield. He protected the centre halves and broke up endless Stoke City attacks before they could reach the danger zone. He also linked up well with Hazard and Oscar and dictated the temp throughout.
Chelsea are beginning to look like a very well balanced, hard working and skilful team. Mouinho has masterminded seven straight victories and confidence is high. The one area of concern remains the centre forward position. Mourinho has stated that we will not see a new forward in January so we have to rely on Eto’o, Ba and Torres, at least until the Summer. Eto’o could have and should have scored yesterday. I stall maintain that he is a big game player and we looked better yesterday when Demba Ba replaced Eto’o.
Stoke City created very little yesterday and the lack of pace in their team is clearly evident. It is alarming to know that they have only netted once with a header this season!! Mourinho got the tactics spot on and Oscar, Hazard and Schurrle were outstanding. The former scored a sensational goal from a set piece. It was straight off the training ground with Luiz making the dummy run and Oscar curled an unstoppable effort past a hapless Begovic. Quite simply stunning.
Chelsea went close on several more occasions with Oscar and Schurrle hitting the woodwork whilst Lampard and Eto’o perhaps should have done better with close range efforts.
All in all a very comfortable win, another clean sheet and another great away day to look forward to. Mourinho also confirmed that the Salah deal has been completed. I thought he would at least let Liverpool do the medical for us!